Enough has already been written by others about the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, so I’ll pose the question most interesting to me now. I don’t remember a situation deteriorating as fast as the one in New Orleans since the Los Angeles riots after the Rodney King verdict, and I feel comfortable saying that this is worse by a huge margin. So, should looters be shot?
I’ll point you to this post by KipEsquire for reference on my thinking. Consider:
I therefore think it’s wrong to call Katrina victims who are robbing stores for food, water or first aid supplies “looters.” Trespassers, certainly, but trespassers entitled to assert the privilege of “private necessity.” Of course, if such “acquirers” are ethical and if the logistics of the recovery and rebuilding allow it, then they should attempt to make restitution later on. But legally and morally they are entitled not to be condemned as “looters.”
On the other hand, stealing televisions or laptops or weapons or anything else above and beyond the barest essentials for life most certainly does constitute “looting” and should be prevented by any means necessarily, including the use of deadly force.
I agree with his assessment. Yet, when I had this discussion with my brother today, he disagreed vehemently with me, stating that we can’t shoot people for property. I think I’m right, but I’m curious to read what other people think. To hopefully sway your thinking, consider this analysis, which is what I argued when discussing the necessary response to looting.
I fully acknowledge that shooting looters is an inappropriately disproportionate response if one views looting as mere larceny. But one doesn’t shoot looters to protect property, one does so to protect order. Somebody is going to suffer unjustly when society breaks down. I don’t understand why Muller thinks it preferable for the law-abiding citizens to be the cost-bearers. History has shown repeatedly that the way to stop an anarchic riot is an early display of substantial force.
I’m willing to consider shades of grey, such as stealing televisions versus carjacking and armed robbery of hospital narcotics. Also of interest, what about looters stealing firearms? Are they stealing them to defend themselves or to form roving gangs?
So, please, post comments if you have an opinion. I think anyone stealing non-essentials should be shot because the need to restore order is above all else because stability precedes the emergency officials’ ability to respond. What do you think?